Tag Archives: Free Walking Tour

Visiting Japan Was Like a Pre-Season Game for Us

Me using a sports analogy is so predictable, isn’t it?

The #seattlebundas just returned yesterday from 9 exhilarating, yet exhausting days in Japan. We brought back to Seattle lifetime memories, as many pics as the total number taken when I spent nearly 2 years living in England in the mid-1990’s, and some important lessons which will serve us well when we embark on longer-term travel later this Spring.

Like coaches that prepared all off-season with new plays, systems, and game plans, Laura and I hoped to use the trip to help us gauge how ready we are for our future adventures (aka “Regular Season”). Mission accomplished.

Key Learnings:

  1. Trey and Kamaile really are very good travelers. The flight to Narita was 10+ hours; the flight back was 8.5 hours. Adding in Customs and Immigration, airport transfers (cars/trains/subways), etc., on both ends meant very LONG days. No complaints, or at least no more than their big baby of a Dad. I’m especially proud of how Kamaile handled herself throughout: she has to physically carry more (pound-for-pound), exert more energy (2 steps for every 1 that I take), walk at a faster pace (just to keep up), and do it all without the benefit of being able to see well where she’s going.
  2. We can actually travel with just carry-on bags, after all. Laura mentioned in an earlier post the many hours we spent researching bags. It appears that we’ve found the right bags for the kids and a sweet bag for Laura. Meanwhile, I’m still deciding whether to keep my bag. We packed minimally (e.g. 4 T-shirts, not 7) and efficiently (packing cubes are your friend). Being able to carry our bags allowed us to transition quickly and easily between cars, vans, airplanes, trains, and subways. Not having roller bags meant that we could better traverse even the worst walkways and paths, when needed.
  3. We found a “system” that works for us when navigating new places on foot. This typically involves me leading, followed in order by Kamaile, Trey, and Laura in single file (especially in busier, more crowded areas). Laura and I also realized after about 5 days that at least 2 of us needed to know where we were headed to help ensure that we didn’t veer too far off course. Sharing the burden of figuring out where you are at any given time is HUGE.
  4. We are improving at our decision-making while in the moment. Often, it’s about me needing to be a better, more patient listener. Sometimes, it’s about Kamaile being more bold about saying what she wants. At other times, it’s about Trey being better at articulating what he wants, as opposed to moping or grunting disapproval.
  5. Trey is growing up FAST. We have him a number of small opportunities to exert some independence or leadership. He purchased items on his own without us to help guide him–figuring out on the fly how to work through language and cultural barriers. He went for a walk in the neighborhood where we stayed to a store that was nearby, but definitely out of eyesight. Trey even led us through the maze of rush-hour subway traffic a couple times, which is no easy task when you can’t read most of the signs. So proud of that kid.
  6. Sticking to a semblance of a budget is generally difficult to when traveling, let alone when visiting another country. Math, conversions, relative value, need vs. want, long-term usefulness, blah, blah, blah. The better I get at this, the longer we’ll be able to travel.
  7. Free Walking Tours are legit. See this earlier post for the one we took in Tokyo. I understand that most major cities have something similar. My intention is to do one of these as early as possible whenever we visit a new city.
  8. Bike Tours are legit. See this earlier post for the one we took in Tokyo.
  9. We can live for a short while in a studio-sized apartment, if necessary. Whether we can do that for more than a couple weeks at a time remains to be seen.
  10. I can still be challenged in areas that I believe are my strengths. I like to think of myself as one who is calm under pressure, embraces change, leans into ambiguity, and can adapt very quickly to new surroundings or situations. Being in another country, not really knowing anyone there, not being able to communicate well (Sorry, Mom and Dad, my 6 years of Japanese language studies as a kid were only marginally helpful), and still being responsible for my family’s day-to-day well-being felt overwhelming at times.

There were many other lessons learned (or still outstanding) that I may try to capture in future posts.

Moving forward, as we prepare for the next part of our journey, I’m excited to know that we have a great shot at being ready for our regular season.

Ueno Park and Tokyo Imperial Palace (March 28, 2015 Recap)

Hey guys, today we went to Ueno Park to see the cherry blossoms! There were two colors, white and pink on many different species of trees.


It was very interesting because tons of people kind of claimed sections of the grass with tarps to hang out at, also called Hanami. This is an annual tradition that was started to welcome in the new year’s harvest.   We also saw a lot of different people, even some guys dressed as anime girls! After leaving the park, we went to Ameyoko Market, where we saw one of the cosplay weirdos again.   

We found a restaurant where we sat down and had a hard time ordering because the menu was in Japanese! This shouldn’t be surprising since we are in Japan, but thankfully when they saw our confused faces, they brought out a picture menu, which I was extremely grateful for. 

After eating, we said goodbye to our grandparents since they are leaving today, and went to find our Tokyo Free Walking Tour.

The tour took us through the Tokyo Imperial Palace, where we learned all about the history of the place.


After the tour we decided to go home to relax for a while, and then go to dinner at a place called Brozers’. They have AMAZING burgers and awesome desserts. When we got home from the one minute walk, we got ready for bed and went to sleep

See you guys later!